Friday, August 26, 2011

Pilgrims Come Home

Greetings from Los Estados Unidos! The 24 hour mark is approaching since we left Spain, so I thought I'd offer a brief reflection on the three weeks of pilgrimage we experienced.

Many people told us beforehand that a pilgrimage is less about the destination then the journey itself. Given Ignatius' emphasis on our constant discernment of God's call in our lives, I'd say there's a lot of truth to that. At the same time though, upon some reflection I see the destination of this journey, at least for me, as Christ as Ignatius himself saw him. And I know that I certainly caught glimpses of this throughout the three weeks.

The first major part of the journey, and in many ways the most important for me personally, was the 70 mile walk from Xavier to Loyola undertaken with Chrissy, Bea, Jen, Kevin, Mike, Jackie, Shana, Rosa, Carmina, Cristina, Maria, Rocio, Belen, Curro, Aymeric, Peroline, Jeanne, Sixtine, Xavier, Marie, Clemente, Mathilde, Aline, Iker, Eva, Borja, Jose Maria, Petri, and Eduarda. I list each name because we truly became a family, and to leave out even one name is to miss Christ in the experience. Walking, being with these people, carrying our lives on our backs, appreciating the beauty of Spain, these among others strike me as the overarching sources of grace that held our experience together. The conversations we had were heartfelt, the canyons, mountains, and rivers prayerful, and the individual time for reflection fruitful. When we finally arrived in Loyola after 6 days and 70 miles, my first gut feeling was that I was leaving something profound, like I was leaving my heart on the road from Xavier to Loyola. Each step that final day was a time of offering each face to God, asking for God's love bestowed upon them. This was one of the ways in which I distinctly saw Christ, in the beauty in each person and the way in which I felt the love of God for each pilgrim.

This grace pursued me throughout the rest of our Spanish pilgrimage. The idea of offering someone else or one's own self up to God followed all of us through WYD as we offered up the world to God, Montserrat as we saw Ignatius do the same with himself to the Black Madonna, and Manresa as we got the opportunity to offer ourselves up in the cave in which Ignatius first prayed the following prayer:

Take, Lord, receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will
All the I have and hold, you have given me.
I restore it all to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
And I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.

The road of our pilgrimage for me was a road to more authentically offering myself to the Lord. Today I propose a challenge for all of you who continue to journey with us (Spain is ended but the pilgrimage to Christ never is). Picture one person's face a day, someone you treasure, and give them away to the Lord while saying the prayer of St. Ignatius listed above. Thank you for being with us in our journey "con Cristo en el corazon del mundo." You continue to be in our prayers. Peace

-Mike Finucane